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Understanding Nioh better: A guide to your second 10 hours

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When it takes 10 hours to get through the tutorial, it’s OK to look for more help

So you’ve finished your first 10 hours of Niohthe game’s vast introduction that we wrote about in our Nioh beginner’s guide. What could possibly be left to learn? Well, if you’re asking that, you seem to fundamentally misunderstand Nioh’s core concepts. There’s more to see and new layers of complexity to discover now that you’ve completed the introductory levels (it feels weird to call the first 10 hours a tutorial). You’re not done learning or being taught yet and you definitely haven’t seen everything the game has to offer.

So in this Nioh guide, let’s dive into what’s new after the "Isle of Demons" mission — the region screen, missions, sub missions and twilight missions — and break down some of the new concepts you’ll be beating your head against — blacksmithing, fashion choices and oh-my-God-so-many items.

Table of contents

Region screen

Blacksmith

Torii gate

Important and useful items

Skill customization


Region screen

After you defeat the boss in the Isle of Demons, you’ll find a new interface — the region screen. Here, you can pick a new mission, sub mission or twilight mission to tackle, or you can visit your starting point.

  • Missions are your chunks along the main storyline.
  • Sub missions are smaller and shorter (and more difficult) missions in areas you’ve already cleared.
  • Twilight missions are difficult, high risk-high reward challenges. These also take place in mission locations you’ve previously cleared, but they’re much, much more difficult.
  • Starting point is is your home base. We’ll go into detail on this below.

Mission levels

Missions, sub missions and twilight missions all have a mission level. Presumably, this is the minimum recommended character level you should attain before attempting it. Meeting the minimum level is basically suicide. You’re going to want to be at least a few levels higher than the mission level. And we can say from experience that five to 10 levels higher makes a mission much more manageable, but still challenging.

Starting point

The starting point is your home base for a region. It’s like a shrine, but broader — if a shrine lets you prepare for a battle, your starting point is where you prepare for the war.

Your starting point lets you improve William’s stats, buy new gear or improve what you already have, practice your techniques (technique is jutsu in Japanese — who’s not learning anything from video games now, mom?) or help out your fellow Williams in their fights.

  • Shrine is the shrine you know and love with all of the same options. We wrote about it in our Nioh beginner’s guide, where you can read all about your options at a shrine, what they do and how to use them to prepare for your battles.
  • Blacksmith is for making and upgrading gear. And haircuts. There’s a lot going on in the blacksmith shop, and we go into detail in our blacksmith section.
  • Dojo is the same dojo you visited between the "Tower of London" and the "Isle of Demons" missions. You can practice fighting and refresh your memory on any of the concepts that’ve gotten rusty.
  • Torii gate is the other side of the summon companion option at the shrines. Go here to make yourself available for online co-op.
  • Hidden teahouse is the hub for Nioh’s clan battles (another method of online play) and another store with different items, weapons and character customization options than the blacksmith. It unlocks after you complete the "Spider Nest Castle" mission.
  • Storehouse is your inventory overflow. Certain items are transferred here automatically (like elixirs).

Blacksmith

By far the most intimidating and complicated mechanic in Nioh is the blacksmithing interface. There’s just a lot going on here. Some of it is straightforward enough, but there’re just so many options that it feels overwhelming. We’ll break it down into manageable chunks below.

In the blacksmith shop, you’ll meet Senji Tome. Instead of choosing one of the blacksmithing options, hitting triangle to talk to her will open up a couple more options. "I want to know more" will ask Tome to explain the mechanics of blacksmithing. "I have a request for Tome," when available — you’ll earn patronage points as you visit the blacksmith — will let you do things like ask to reduce the cost of forging or unlock the barber shop menu.

Buy and sell

Buy and sell lets you do exactly that. You can sell your items, weapons and armor for gold, or you can spend your gold on the things Tome has for sale. Complete more missions to unlock more items.

Forge

Forging turns all of those materials you’ve gathered into useable gear. Because this is Nioh, there’s another layer of complexity, of course. Each of those materials you’ve picked up have their own rarity ratings. When you choose to forge something, you determine how rare the materials are, which in turn affects the rarity of the item created.

By default, all of your most rare materials are chosen. The likelihood of the forged item falling into each rarity category is displayed at the top of the screen. In the images above, increasing the number of rare or one of a kind iron kozane (if we had any) would increase the likelihood that the resulting armor would be rare or better would increase. The rarity would also impact the weapon’s special effects and defensive multiplier.

Soul match

Soul matching is a way for you to increase your gear’s level — and higher level gear is better gear. Soul matching works by, effectively, feeding higher level gear to lower level gear to improve the latter. Feeding gear of the same or a lower level might still improve the original piece, but won’t raise its level.

In the image above, we’re feeding level 17 warlord armor to our level 16 platemail armor. The result? A level 17 platemail armor with a higher defensive multiplier.

"Why wouldn’t I just use the higher level item?" you may be rightly asking. Well, you can use soul matching to take high level weapons you don’t have the skills or stats to use properly and feed them to low level weapons that you’re already good with. You can do the same thing to take really heavy, high defensive multiplier armor and feed it to lighter, less protective armor to improve the stats without increasing the weight. (This is what you use it for the most, and you can see that in the image above.)

Special effects generally won’t transfer from higher level to lower level items. Certain effects marked with a special icon will be inherited, but only if you’ve achieved max familiarity with the item. You can see this icon in the picture on the right above. High attack break is marked with the "inheritable" icon — if we had max familiarity with that sword, high attack break would be inherited by any lower level weapons we fed it to.

Refashion

Refashion lets you change the appearance of your gear. This doesn’t affect any of the item’s stats, just its outward appearance. Select the item you want to change, then what you want it to look like.

Hair

If you ask Tome to unlock the hair option in the blacksmith shop, you’ll be able to customize William’s appearance. (To an extent. Don’t you get your hair cut at the blacksmith?) When you first unlock it, you’ll get three new hairstyle options and a few beards to choose from. Changing your appearance costs gold, but can you really put a price on fashion?

Reforge

An item’s special effects — like increases in gold and amrita drop rates or increased defense against elemental damage — are random. If you choose to reforge an item, you can spend spirit iron fragments to reroll the dice. You cannot reforge traits that have the lock icon to their left.

Disassemble

Disassemble lets you break down a piece of gear into its component materials. You can use those materials to forge new items. The rarity of the item determines the rarity of the materials that result.

Torii gate

As lonely as it may feel fighting your way on your own through the demon hordes, you don’t always have to do it alone. We talked about using ochoko cups to summon help at a shrine in the Nioh beginner’s guide. Let’s talk about the other side of that equation.

Yokai realm with a companion

The Williams fighting together in this mode share a pool of life. You can recharge at shrines and the Williams can revive each other when they fall during fights. Co-op yokai realm missions are more challenging (punishing) and more rewarding because of your teamwork.

Random encounters

This is the more traditional co-op option, in which you make yourself available to another player who is offering a ochoko cup. You drop into their game to help them through whatever mission they’re struggling with, or you can choose which mission you’re offering to help with.

Important and useful items

There are so many items in Nioh. A lot of them are pretty self-explanatory — like grenades or talismans — but there are a few items that become invaluable to you as you take on harder and harder levels. We’ve broken this down into a few broad categories of things that are going to help you out early on — things to take a couple shortcuts to familiarity (see our Nioh beginner's guide for more on weapon familiarity) and things to get you out of sticky situations.

Items to increase familiarity

We wrote about the benefits of familiarity in our beginner’s guide — it improves your ability to fight with a weapon by unlocking special effects, it makes the item more valuable when offering it at a shrine and it makes soul matching at the blacksmith more beneficial. What if there were a way to get those benefits without all of the work? Uchiko powder and whetstones are your answer. Uchiko powder gives you a temporary boost to familiarity. Whetstones permanently increase your familiarity with all of your currently equipped weapons. You’ll pick up these items during missions — either from smashing crates or dropped by enemies.

Items to return to shrines

Maybe you’ve gotten in over your head. Maybe you’re just not ready to face what’s coming next. But you’re also not sure how to get back to the last shrine you saw. There are two items that will return you to the last shrine you prayed at — the harakari sword and the travel amulet. The harakari sword sacrifices your amrita to get you there, the travel amulet doesn’t. We’ve only picked up one harakari sword — as a standalone item in a cave near the end of the "Isle of Demons" mission — but have found several travel amulets as enemy item drops.

Items to return to the starting point

If you’ve started on a mission that is clearly above your skill level, you’re not stuck. The himorogi fragment and branch operate like the harakari sword and travel amulet (the fragment sacrifices your amrita, the branch doesn’t). They return you to the starting point instead of a shrine. You’ll receive both of these items as rewards for completing early missions and then start finding them in crate and enemy drops in later missions.

Items to reclaim grave goods

When you fall in battle and your spirit guardian and amrita are waiting out there for you, you have another choice beyond sacrificing your amrita to recall your spirit guardian or fighting your way back to your grave. If you burn a summoner’s candle, it’ll return both your spirit guardian and your amrita to you without any hassle. You will pick these up as enemy drops early on — usually a really tough yokai — and start finding them as drops later.

Book of reincarnation

The book of reincarnation is an item you can buy from Tome the blacksmith. Using it will reset all of your skill points and all of the stats you’ve upgraded during leveling up. It’ll reset your character level to 1 and give you back all of the skill points and amrita you’ve spent so far. This is a way to completely reset all of those points you’ve put into your character and let your redistribute them — giving you a total do-over.

You only get to use each book once, but you can purchase more than one copy — at an increasing cost each time. The first copy will cost you 10,000 gold, the second will cost 30,000.

Skill customization

You may have noticed that all those skills you’ve been adding with samurai skill points use a lot of the same buttons. Well, you’re not wrong. Use the skill customization tab in your options menu to assign your various skill to your various weapons and stances.

  • Focus on the weapons you prefer and that you’ve been dumping stats into.
  • Think about how you’ve been using your stances. For example, low stance is defensive, so maybe choose a combo ender that moves you out of the way.

This creates a mind-bending number of combinations and permutations for you to choose from — low, mid and high stance for each weapon can have different movesets and combos. Just remember: Skill customization lets you tweak how William fights to match how you play. Focus on what you know and ignore the rest. Use skill customization to make William fight your way.